Baseball

Well, the good news is that things are off to a better start than last season.

The Cubs reaped the benefits of the Brewers fumbling their Opening Weekend series, as their starters kind of threw three dud games in a row despite the lofty expectations from their fans and around the league. In addition, the surprising offensive performances by the Cubs were beyond any expectations I had, especially for this series against probable contenders.

What did not surprise me, however, was the tomfoolery that ensued in Saturday’s game with four players total getting hit by pitches and the benches-clearing “brawl” that commenced. The Brewers just love to hit the Cubs, especially Willson Contreras, and just about everyone has had enough of it, especially Willson Contreras. But the Cubs came up on top in the win column, which is truly all that matters. Fuck the Brewers, and to the bullets!

  • I wasn’t expecting much from Ian “Kirby” Happ to start the season, and made my feelings known in the preview. The Fels Motherfuck continues to haunt this website, however, as Happ made me look like a fool. He currently leads the team with five hits and has the best slash line on the team: .714/.778/1.778. He also has 4 RBIs, good for second on the team, and is the only player yet to strike out this season. Luckily for us the Brewers fucking drilled him in the knee with a pitch on Saturday and Rossy pulled him from the game as a precaution. He also didn’t play on Sunday, and though they were playing the B Team that day anyways, it’s obviously a bit of a concern. Hopefully Happer can continue to be a surprise offensive force, because we will need all the help we can get in that department to continue winning games.
  • Seiya Suzuki—what a guy. What plate discipline! He’s played in all three games so far this season in right field and has been an absolute pleasure to watch. I genuinely thought he’d look a bit worse to start the season off as he adjusted to MLB baseball, but he looks very comfortable here so far. His three-run bomb on Sunday was just about the only good thing I saw in the 5-4 loss, and he also leads the team with 6 RBIs. More, more, more please.
  • Our bullpen couldn’t suck more if it tried, God save us. With Codi Heuer, Brad Wieck and Adbert Alzolay on the 60-day IL, the only good/memorable pitching I’ve seen out of the pen has been from 37-year-old closer David Robertson, who collected his first save of the season on Thursday, and Keegan Thompson, who just got suspended three games for throwing at Andrew McCutchen (don’t talk to me about it, I’m still pissed). Jesse Chavez particularly was a tire fire on the mound on Sunday and couldn’t throw a strike to save his life, and when he did it was right down the middle and rocked for a home run. He gave up 3 runs in 0.2 innings pitched, good for a sparkling 40.50 ERA right now. Figure it out, people.
  • Marcus Stroman didn’t have a bad Cubs debut, and I loved that he caught a line drive on Sunday instead of ducking to avoid it like MLB pitchers are so very wont to do. He was able to execute a double play because of it, and I was pleased to see it.
  • The Cubs B Team Lineup (B for Bad, I guess) got rocked pretty hard on Sunday, especially on the offensive front. Alfonso Rivas, Suzuki, Yan Gomes, and Nico Hoerner had the only Cubs hits for the day. Suzuki was wholly responsible for 3 of the 4 Cubs runs, and the 4th and final Cubs run was scored by pinch hitter Patrick Wisdom after getting walked as the Brewers showed us they have the parts to make up a shitty bullpen as well (besides Josh Hader, who I will forever see in my nightmares). I will reserve my judgment for some of these Cubs for later on down the line, but it’s not looking great so far.

The Cubs season continues tomorrow with a back-to-back against the Pirates (1-2) and then they travel to Colorado for a weekend series against the Rockies (3-1) and Kris Bryant, who we will miss forever. After this performance against the Brewers I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs dropped a stinker or two this week, but I’m hoping they can build on this newfound offense and hopefully find a bullpen pitcher who can actually throw the ball. God willing.

Go Cubs go!

Baseball

We thought it may never come, but baseball season is once again upon us. And with the Cubs’ World Series core all signed to other teams and the Red Hot Chili Peppers just releasing a new album with John Frusciante on guitar, it really feels like we’re back in 2006. (Linked is Frusciante shredding up Give It Away like it’s nothing on Howard Stern. I didn’t get to see this band live with him in the lineup, so I am absurdly excited for the tour. Take my money.)

The Cubs have yet to officially announce their Opening Day roster, but it’s certainly starting to take shape, and things look a bit rocky with a myriad of starting and bullpen pitchers beginning the season on the injured list, because of course they are. Kyle Hendricks is deservedly slated to be the Opening Day starter, with Rossy confirming that Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman are starting on Friday and Saturday respectively. Drew Smyly, a pickup from the Braves this offseason, could be an option for Sunday’s start as well.

Stroman, the offseason pitching signing the Cubs inked just before the lockout, is yet another pitcher who loves inducing ground balls, and throws a 92 mph fastball—and though that may not seem very fast to you, it’s fast compared to the rest of the Cubs pitchers, since fastballs are not this team’s specialty. Meanwhile, veteran starter Wade Miley, who the Cubs easily plucked from the swarmey, grimey hands of Bob Castellini, has been on a slower ramp-up schedule over Spring Training and is expected to start the season on the injured list. Miley had a bounceback season with the Reds last year with a 3.37 ERA and a no-hitter to his name.

The bullpen is just a teeny tiny bit of a tire fire at the moment, with three of the strongest pitchers, Adbert Alzolay, Brad Wieck and Codi Heuer, starting the season on the 60-day IL. (White Sox fans are laughing maniacally at this news, I’m sure.) With the slower start to begin the season with the off-day on Monday, I bet we see Alec Mills or Keegan Thompson on relief duty to patch some of those bullpen holes. Other than those guys, we have a myriad of Joe Schmoes who will have a chance out of the bullpen. Michael Rucker is an interesting name to keep an eye on—he pitched 28.1 innings last season and had a ballooning 6.99 ERA, but didn’t look terrible in Arizona with a 2.25 ERA and 11 strikeouts over 8 innings. Some other names we will likely see early: Jesse Chavez, Scott Effross, Daniel Norris, Mychal Givens, David Robertson, and Rowan Wick. With no true closer figured out yet, expect the latter three to be rotating in and out of the 9th innings until Rossy sees someone that can maybe sorta kinda replace Craig Kimbrel. (Nobody can.)

As for the fielders, let’s start out with the obligatory fuck you to Ricketts and Co. for the handling of Willson Contreras’s contract extension this offseason. We’ve seen this long national nightmare before and we all know where it’s going—if Contreras is still a Cub after this year’s deadline I will be genuinely shocked. In the meantime, Rossy is relieved to have the DH in the NL now so he doesn’t have to ride Contreras into the fucking ground during the first half of the season. Hopefully he has a bounceback offensive season this year with some days off in the DH role as new signee Yan Gomes takes some starts. That way Contreras can get paid the big bucks he deserves in free agency when he signs to some team that isn’t the Cubs. Prepare yourselves.

The Cubs infield consists of a halfhearted shrug from me. Andrelton Simmons, who the front office hailed as the singular solution to the team’s defensive issues we saw in the back half of last season, looks bound for the injured list with shoulder problems. This means we will see Nico Hoerner at shortstop, who is surprisingly not injured to start the season (please God, do not Motherfuck me on this.) Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel will make their triumphant returns and we’ll see if last season wasn’t just an epic, humungous fluke. Finally, Nick Madrigal is expected to hopefully not get hurt this season and build upon his offensive numbers—he had a .305/.249/.425 slash line with the Sox before tearing his hamstring in June to end his 2021 season.

Last but not least, the Cubs outfield got bolstered substantially with the signing of Seiya Suzuki from Japan, who nudges Jason Heyward, God save us all, over to center. There’s understandably been a lot of hype around Seiya, but I’m trying to temper my expectations as he will probably need some time to adjust to the MLB. He hit two home run bombs in Spring Training but also had 7 strikeouts in 17 plate appearances, good for a .235/.350/.588 slash line. So again, time to adjust is needed. Meanwhile, Ian Happ, known oh-so-affectionately around here as the Kirby Dach of the Chicago Cubs, had surgery over the offseason and will probably see a lighter workload to start things off. Heyward continues to be a Locker Room Guy and not much else—just two more seasons on that contract to go. Other than that, we’ll probably see old familiars like Rafael Ortega and Michael Hermosillo filling in any outfield holes.

It was really looking like the Cubs were heading into full-blown rebuild mode going into this offseason, but the tides have turned slightly with some significant pitching signings and the acquisition of Seiya Suzuki this winter. Now the Cubs’ ship seems to be turning in circles, stuck between rebuild and contention, the place that MLB owners love so much to be. This team certainly won’t be good, but considering the expanded 12-team playoff system that came out of the lockout and the irreverent tanking of the Reds and Pirates this year, a playoff spot may not be as out of reach as you think…if everything goes exactly according to plan, of course. But I think a season not unlike the one in 2006 is in our midst.

Despite it all…go Cubs go!

Baseball

Not only did this Cubs team get crushed in a four-game series against the Cardinals, a hated rival, but the Cardinals won their franchise-record 16th game in a row while doing it and all but officially ending the NL wild card race, as now the closest teams behind them for the second spot are 5.5-6 games back.

There’s not a lot of good to report, especially considering Nico Hoerner continues to be injured, sitting out the last two games of this series due to “general soreness.” Wisdom was out for the final game, as well, with wrist soreness. Not that any of it matters, of course.

September 24, 2021 Game 1
Cubs 5, Cardinals 8 (F/7)
WP: Reyes (10-8) LP: Steele (3-4)
Box Score

Another Justin Steele start for this one, and another Justin Steele loss. He pitched five of the seven innings for the Cubs, dueling for much of the game with the Cardinals’ starter, J.A. Happ. J.A. won out on this one, with Steele allowing a two-run dinger in the 3rd inning and two more dingers in the 5th inning to make it 6-0 Cardinals. Seven hits, two walks and five strikeouts in five innings—it could be better.

The Cubs were snakebitten for the first half of this one offensively, even loading the bases in the 4th when they were only down two runs, but were never able to make anything happen, with strikeouts and double-plays making things hard. By the 6th inning, after two more Cardinals runs given up by Tommy Nance, the Cubs went on a bit of a rally, but rallies lack in meaning if you’re down eight runs. Nevertheless, two walks, a homer, a single and two doubles and suddenly the loss looked a lot less brutal on the scoreboard. But trust me, it was pretty brutal if you watched the whole way through.

September 24, 2021 Game 2
Cubs 4, Cardinals 12 (F/7)
WP: LP:
Box Score

It’s a waste of my time to write about this game and it would be a waste of your time to read about it.

September 25, 2021
Cubs 5, Cardinals 8
WP: Kim (7-7) LP: Heuer (7-3)
Box Score

At least runs were scored in three separate innings in this 8-5 loss as opposed to the previous 8-5 loss. Once again, the Cards scored first with a solo dinger to right field. Then two singles, a double and a walk in the 3rd gave the Cubs their first lead in the entire series, which they returned quickly to the Cardinals in the next half-inning, as starter Adrian Sampson gave up his second homer of the game, this time to Tyler O’Neill.

The 4th inning featured a bit of déjà vu from the 3rd inning, as Willson Contreras and Ian Happ scored two more runners on their own. This time the Cubs bombarded St. Louis with three singles, a sac bunt and a walk in the 4th to go up 4-2, where the score stayed for two innings.

Sampson was taken out at the start of the 7th inning for Codi Heuer, who ended up being the losing pitcher for the Cubs when he gave up four hits in a row, tying the game. Scott F-Ross replaced him and gave up a sac fly on his third pitch of the game, giving the Cards a lead they would not give back. Tommy Nance gave up three more runs on the mound in the 9th inning, and though Happ hit a solo dinger to center field at the bottom of the 9th, it wasn’t enough for a Cubs comeback. Shocking, I know.

September 26, 2021
Cubs 2, Cardinals 4
WP: Cabrera (4-5) LP: Heuer (7-4)
Box Score

Another game where the Cubs were out ahead with a lead and blew it. Granted this was a 2-1 lead against a team on a 15-game winning streak, but you did hope the Cubs would hold on.

In the 3rd inning, Paul Goldschmidt hit a solo homer to put the Cardinals in front, but an inning later in the 4th showed the Cubs’ only meaningful burst of offense this game after a walk, a single, a double by Sergio Alcantara and a sac fly by David Bote put the Cubs ahead 2-1.

The Cardinals hit another solo homer in the 8th inning off Rowan Wick, meaning it all came down to the 9th inning, where Codi Heuer became the losing pitcher for the second game in a row. He couldn’t find a strike, walking the first batter on four pitches, allowing a single in his next pitch, allowing a sacrifice bunt, intentionally walking Paul Goldschmidt to load the bases, and then a wild pitch was thrown in order to score the Cardinals’ go-ahead run. Then a single was hit to Heuer, which he dropped on the ground in an embarrassing error where the Cards scored another runner.

The Cubs were able to get two men on in the bottom of the 9th inning for Frank Schwindel to come up to bat, but an infield fly rule ruled him out and ended up not allowing the Cardinals to throw out Austin Romine at 3rd base. The Cardinals were so pissed about this that their manager was ejected yelling about it, but it ended up not mattering as Ian Happ struck out on three pitches to end the game. That’s Cub.

The Cubs’ final midweek series is against the Pirates starting tonight. The Pirates suck. The Cubs suck. It will be some low-quality baseball. But maybe both teams can make it an interesting series instead of a one-sided shellacking. See you then. Go Cubs go!

Everything Else

I think the craziest thing about the borderline-traumatic deadline selloff this year is that despite fielding what is essentially a glorified AAA team with maybe a future piece or two, the Cubs still find ways to completely drop the ball offensively against other AAA-level teams around the league like the Minnesota Twins. The baseball that went on this week was bad, considering we did lose both contests, but nothing matters anymore and we’re just counting down the days until the season ends. Let’s break things down.

September 21, 2021
Cubs 5, Twins 9
WP: Barraclough (2-0) LP: Mills (6-7)
Box Score

Pitching? Defense? None of that existed today for seemingly either team, with eight runs scored in the first four innings of the game. Alec Mills gave up six hits and six runs. He also fell victim to hitting the deck in the 4th inning instead of catching a ball that was hit right at him, which has genuinely never made any sense to me. Is it really going that fast? Is it really hit that hard? A hit that barely made it to the outfield? You really can’t catch it? Am I in the wrong here?

At least Scott F-Ross made an attempt at catching a ball hit right over his head in the 5th inning. It was just a bit too high and ended up scoring yet another Twin, making the score 6-3. And a quick hit after that one made it 7-3. And by this time the game was all but over.

The Cubs tried their best offensively, with the team getting 11 hits (four more than they had in their win against the Brewers) and Trayce Thompson tying the game in the 2nd inning with a two-run dinger. A Willson Contreras dinger in the 3rd put the Cubs ahead briefly, but the Twins got a two-run lead just a half-inning later. The Cubs’ defense just couldn’t stop tripping over themselves despite some good hits in the bottom of the 6th by Rafael Ortega, Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom to make the score 7-5. That would be the last run the Cubs would score of the ballgame.

Every time a few runs were scored by the Cubs, the Twins just scored a few more, and by the 7th inning they had a four-run lead they wouldn’t give up. Every Cubs pitcher gave up at least one hit, with the five bullpen guys pitching an inning each. Trevor Megill had an especially terrible outing with four hits and two runs scored. I will enjoy wiping this game from my long-term memory.

September 22, 2021
Cubs 4, Twins 5
WP: Ryan (2-1) LP: Hendricks (14-7)
Box Score

This game started out with Frank Schwindel making a big play at first base early, catching a line drive and immediately flashing the finger guns in true Schwindel fashion. Other than that, the story early was that our dear friend Kyle Hendricks was credited with the loss because he allowed two homers for Max Kepler in the 1st and 4th innings.

Nico Hoerner had a two-run single in the bottom of the 2nd to match Kepler’s RBI number for the game thus far, which was good because for a while there I forgot Hoerner was on this baseball team. Glad to see he’s still doing something. He scored Happ and Matt Duffy, who walked and doubled earlier.

The offense on both sides stagnated a bit outside of Kepler’s second homer that put the Twins ahead. But it was mostly the Cubs, who had issues figuring out Joe Ryan with Two First Names, the Twins’ starter, who was throwing some nasty pitches. Just as the Phillies did to the Cubs not too long ago, the Cubs allowed Ryan to strike out seven batters in a row. Ryan ended up striking out eleven Cubs in only five innings pitched, which brings me great pain to tell you.

Kepler almost hit his third homer of the game in the 6th inning, but it bounced off the wall as our prayers were answered. An error from everyone’s favorite second baseman Matt Duffy allowed Kepler to score and extend their lead to 4-2. The Cubs wouldn’t be able to score any runs until the 9th, where it was Happ who RBI’d Schwidel and Contreras who, with a weird play at 1st, RBI’d Happ to make the score seem a little closer than the game actually was.

With the bases loaded, Trayce Thompson struck out on three pitches, the last one being completely in the dirt, to end the game in true Javy Baez fashion. It’s almost like he never left?

The Cubs have a four-game series this weekend against the St. Louis Cardinals, including a doubleheader tomorrow. The Cardinals are red-hot, having won eleven games in a row, sweeping other teams grasping blindly at playoff spots like the Mets and Padres, and all but cementing themselves as the second Wild Card spot for the NL with the next-closest teams 4.5 games back. This weekend will be painful, because we hate the Cards with everything in us and the Cards will probably destroy us in the end. Another instance where turning on the football may be a more lucrative experience for you. Go Cubs go.

Everything Else

As a Cubs fan, you hate the Brewers, and always will. Which means this series sucked, because you singlehandedly gave the Brewers and a stadium filled with tens of thousands of fans a guaranteed playoff spot (likely soon to turn into division title) while your team is destined to be mired in mediocrity for the rest of eternity. Here’s a wrap.

September 17, 2021
Cubs 5, Brewers 8
WP: Ashby (3-0) LP: Wick (0-1)
Box Score

I had déjà vu during the 4th inning of this Cubs game, when the Cubs went up 4-0 and I remembered the absolute shellacking that was handed to them in the previous game in which they blew a 7-0 lead. I knew the Cubs couldn’t hold onto that lead, and the Brewers proved me right in the bottom of that same inning. They scored three runs on no outs thanks to some rough pitching from everyone’s favorite, Zach Davies.

The Cubs would cling onto the one-, sometimes two-run lead until the bottom of the 8th inning when the Brewers took advantage of Rowan Wick, who gave up three singles and two walks in the inning to give the Brewers a 7-5 lead, all on two outs. He was yanked for Dillon Maples, who immediately threw a wild pitch that made it 8-5 Brewers, and then walked two more Brewers before throwing the final out of the inning. The damage had been done, however, as the Cubs couldn’t any runs back in the 9th and ended up losing this game.

September 18, 2021
Cubs 4, Brewers 6
WP: Williams (8-2) LP: F-Ross (2-1)
Box Score

Willson Contreras getting robbed of extra-base hits in the 2nd inning by a highlight-reel catch set the vibe of this entire game for the Cubs. (Patrick Wisdom had a highlight-reel catch of his own later on in the inning, though, that deserves a shoutout). Justin Steele gave up a home run in the bottom of the 2nd to give the Brewers the lead. Though the Cubs came back with a run of their own in the 3rd after three singles, the Brewers hit another dinger in what started out as a surprisingly exciting back-and-forth game.

Though the Cubs were able to score two runs in the top of the 5th off Corbin Burnes thanks to an Ian Happ home run, the Brewers are a playoff team for a reason and wouldn’t give up easily. Additionally, Adbert Alzolay gave up many a hit in his outing today — four in three innings, including one that tied the game in the 5th and a solo dinger to give the Brewers the lead back. It was Contreras, however, who tied the game singlehandedly with a solo homer of his own that deserves a mention here.

The lead didn’t last even half an inning in what was a pretty awful outing by Scott F-Ross. He allowed Manny Pina’s second home run of the night to put the Brewers up late on a tough pitch. Though F-Ross’s pitches can be nasty on occasion, just a slight misplacement of the ball can be trouble for the Cubs.

Two more hits off of F-Ross after that and the game turned to a whole new level of sickening. Contreras was struck out with a legal strike and had a meltdown to the umpire, getting himself ejected from the game — not that that even mattered, as the Brewers just pulled out Josh Hader for the save who had two strikeouts to win the game, and playoff spot, for the Brewers. Just kill me now.

September 19, 2021
Cubs 6, Brewers 2
WP: Morgan (1-0) LP: Boxberger (5-4)
Box Score

Not that anybody cares, but we somehow ended up in the final meeting of the season against these chumps, where nearly half of the baseball game was played with no score for other team. It was Trayce Thompson, today’s right fielder for the Cubs, who started off the scoring with a solo dinger in the 5th against Eric Lauer. However, the Brewers tied it up, once again only a half-inning later, with a walk and a couple of hits off of starter Adrian Sampson, one of which was just a few feet short of being a homer.

Strikeout Wonder Patrick Wisdom, who had four strikeouts in the previous game, struck out four times today and had nine strikeouts in the series, is obscene to me. (Previous Strikeout Wonder Javy Baez struck out only four times in his team’s weekend series against the Mets, for perspective.) However, Wisdom hit a three-run homer in the 8th inning that came after two walks and two hits for the Cubs to make a W seem possible. Suddenly, we were up 6-2 with only an inning and a half to go, and Wisdom was standing alone with the Cubs’ rookie home run record. Congrats to him, despite this win being a part of a much larger farce.

David Ross decided to gift Rowan Wick with a 9th-inning closer opportunity despite the fact that he was dogshit in the first game of this series. And surprise, surprise, Wick’s 9th inning today went about as predictably as you’d expect, putting the Cubs in genuine danger of throwing a four-run lead away late after he walked three and allowed two singles, loading the bases for the Brewers. Michael Rucker was tasked with getting one (1) out, and he got it thanks to a pop fly to center field that won us the game, thank God.

By the way, Nico Hoerner finally returned from his injury today, but if you didn’t notice him I wouldn’t find you at fault, since he went 0 for 4 tonight offensively and was the only non-pitcher for the Cubs today who didn’t even make it on base. So uh, figure that out, I guess.

Everyone gets an off-day tomorrow, and then the Cubs play the final series of the year against the Minnesota Twins, which is about as awful a series as I can think of. Just a few more weeks of this dreck, and hockey is just around the corner. We’ll muddle through together. Go Cubs go.

Baseball

If you thought the Cubs were just gonna step onto Wrigley Field against the first-place team in the entire MLB, featuring Kris Bryant, and look like a competent team, you would be sorely mistaken. The Cubs’ recent good fortune came at the hands of other disgraceful teams in the MLB, and now that they faced off against a World Series contender we all saw that just about everyone at every position won’t be good enough to make up a playoff team next year, no matter what anyone else may try to tell you.

To turn into a playoff team next year means just about everything has to go right, AND the Rickettses need to open their checkbooks to sign some stellar pitching. Who knows to what extent—if any—the Rickettses will feel like paying players next year. And I would well and assume KB, Baez or Rizzo will NOT be signing with this team next year; Bryant’s tribute video and ceremony all but cemented that with all the absurdity that happened there.

And so this might be the caliber of team we’re stuck with for the foreseeable future and it’s not gonna a fun experience, as this series showed. Sorry you had to watch it; at least we won that one ring that one year, huh?

September 10, 2021
Cubs 1, Giants 6
WP: Doval (2-1) LP: Megill (1-1)
Box Score

There were farcical shenanigans going on before the game even began, with the Ricketts family doing everything to honor Kris Bryant for the fans, except for, y’know, signing him to a contract, which would just be too expensive. It also seemed to be too expensive to have someone iron out the creases of the World Series flag they gave him after his tribute video, which is similarly absurd. Congrats to Kris Bryant for successfully extricating himself from this dreck.

As for the game, Kyle Hendricks was the starter who did all he could and then some to keep the Cubs in this game, pitching six total innings and allowing only one run, four hits, and four strikeouts. A solo homer from Frank Schwindel in the 4th inning put the Cubs on top for exactly 1.5 innings before a couple of hits against Hendricks in the 6th allowed the Giants to tie it.

In the 7th inning, it was Trevor Megill out of the bullpen who then allowed three straight hits, one of them a home run, to bring the Giants back on top. They of course would never give the Cubs the game back. Despite Trevor Megill getting yanked, his replacement, Michael Rucker, also gave up a home run to make it 5-1, and then a single and sac fly in the 8th made the game its final score of 6-1.

September 11, 2021
Cubs 4, Giants 15
WP: Gausman (14-5) LP: Davies (6-11)
Box Score

This game was such an utter disaster that I don’t even want to talk about it. Zach Davies still sucks, by the way.

September 12, 2021
Cubs 5, Giants 6
WP: Webb (10-3) LP: Steele (3-3)
Box Score

At least we saw some fight in this one. It was young, still relatively-inexperienced Justin Steele vs. Logan Webb, one of the best pitchers in the NL. Though they pitched almost the same amount of innings (Webb’s six against Steele’s five), Steele gave up almost twice as many hits. However, the rest of their pitching stats were strikingly similar with the same amount of walks, runs and Steele just having one less strikeout. Not that it means anything.

In the 4th inning, Ortega was able to get a triple after the Giants’ Austin Slater completely missed catching the pop fly at center field. Schwindel RBI’d him in, and then Ian Happ later in the inning hit yet another solo homer to breathe a little bit of life into the Cubs. Unfortunately, it would only be one half-inning later when Steele gave up a two-run homer to make it 5-2 Giants.

In the 5th inning, yet another goof by Slater gave David Bote a triple, after he and Kris Bryant collided while both trying to catch the fly ball, which meant neither of them caught the ball. Nick Martini drove in Bote to make it 5-3, but still the Cubs continued to be a step behind the Giants offensively.

Things got heated up in the 7th inning when the Cubs hit themselves into a bases loaded situation down only one run and with only one out, thanks to hits from Bote, Robinson Chirinos, Schwindel and Happ. But Tyler Rogers, the Giants’ pitcher out of the pen, was able to pitch his way out of it with two straight strikeouts to keep the Giants’ lead. His pitches were beyond nasty and difficult to predict where they’d land, especially when it was Contreras, 0-3 on the night, and Alfonso Rivas that were tasked with getting a hit off of him. Plus, Codi Heuer’s wild pitch the half-inning before had allowed Bryant to score and give the Giants 6 runs and the win over the Cubs.

The Cubs are off today, but will be back to take on the Phillies this week, a team currently mired in mediocrity. The Phillies most recently lost a series to the Rockies, and you have to be actively trying to be bad to do that successfully. Perhaps the Cubs can win some meaningless games here; perhaps not. See you then and go Cubs go.

Everything Else

There’s nothing funnier than when a Cubs team with nothing to play for spoils a playoff-contending team by winning the series. It gets even funnier when it’s the Cincinnati Reds, who only got one win and arguably should’ve come out of this series with all three to jump back into a playoff position. Now they are a game back of the Padres in the wild card race and the Cubs have won eight of their last nine games. Get your fun where you can get it at this point of a lost season.

September 6, 2021
Cubs 4, Reds 3
WP: Effross (2-0) LP: Lorenzen (0-2)
Box Score

The Reds become one of the more formidable opponents the Cubs have faced recently, as they poked holes in our defense and figured out Justin Steele the third time through the lineup, which is when opponents always figure out Justin Steele.

Ian Happ spotted the Cubs an early 3-0 lead after a fielding error and a single for Rafael Ortega and Frank Schwindel put them on base, putting Happ in the position to hit his big homer. That was just about all the offense either team allowed until the 6th, when things got stupid with Steele walking a batter, allowing a single and hitting two guys in a row.

Codi Heuer replaced Steele and we all watched as most of his pitches didn’t go where he wanted them to go, culminating toward the Reds tying the game on a double off of him. However, Scott F-Ross came in in the 7th and was able to pretty reliably shut down the Reds offense as they squandered their chances of moving back into a wild card position.

The nail in the coffin of this game was Frank Schwindel once again with the game-winning hit, which happened in the bottom of the 8th inning and scored Alfonso Rivas, who had singled earlier. Adam Morgan completely shut things down in the 9th with the save, which included a line-out for pinch hitter Joey Votto. A solid performance, despite a complete lack of offense for most of the outing with Sonny Gray on the mound.

September 7, 2021
Cubs 3, Reds 4
WP: Miley (12-5) LP: Sampson (0-2)
Box Score

Despite their best efforts and a start from Adrian Sampson, the Cubs weren’t able to win their eighth in a row. Two homers – one a leadoff homer – in the 1st inning for the Reds made it so the Cubs couldn’t ever catch up. The Cubs were unable to figure out Reds pitcher Wade Miley, with only a Willson Contreras solo homer in the 3rd inning to dent Miley’s stats.

Sampson allowed six hits in five innings pitched and allowed no more runs after his shaky first inning. He also threw only one strikeout and allowed a walk, however, which is a somewhat-concerning stat. Miley, on the other hand, struck out eight Cubs in his seven innings pitched and allowed no walks and only five hits. Contreras’s homer was the only run he allowed, showing the Cubs how far this team actually is from having a solid starter. Pray for us all.

Sergio Alcantara had a few good throwing plays this game, which is good to see considering he seems to be the poor man’s Javy Baez replacement. Schwindel was also doing a good job of catching all of those throws—if a ball was hit to the infield today, the Cubs were able to get the out.

Manuel Rodriguez allowed two more Reds runs in the 8th inning, allowing big outfield hits that the current Cubs outfield couldn’t make plays on. The homer happy Cubs got two solo dingers in the bottom of the 8th from Rafael Ortega and Happ to make the score 4-3, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Reds took this one.

September 8, 2021
Cubs 4, Reds 1 (F/10)
WP: Heuer (7-2) LP: Brach (1-2)
Box Score

For the first four innings of this game the only runs to be had were solo dingers, one for each team: Ian Happ and Joey Votto, respectively. Other than that, it was for the most part a pitchers’ duel between Alec Mills and Vladimir Gutierrez. Mills was able to stay in for six innings and allowed four hits and a walk with three strikeouts. This is compared to Gutierrez, who despite only going five innings had twice as many strikeouts and half as many hits. Once again, our starting pitching has a long way to go to get to playoff contention.

Once Mills’s time was done, Rowan Wick allowed two hits but no runs in two innings pitched, and then Codi Heuer stepped to the mound to allow no hits and two strikeouts in his winning performance. His pitches are really something to watch; many of them never look like strikes because they’re always so inside, but whenever a player swings at those inside pitches they almost never make contact.

The unlikely hero of this game was Jason Heyward in the bottom of the 10th inning—everyone knew the ball was outta here seemingly as soon as the ball left his bat. He knocked in Contreras, the runner who had started on second base, and Patrick Wisdom, who hit a bloop to left field and ended up stealing second base soon after.

The Cubs are off today and then return this weekend to face the Giants and Kris Bryant, who is having the time of his life away from the Ricketts family and all you can do is wish him the best. Bryant was out on Tuesday for the Giants with an injury (shocker) but is supposed to make a quick return by the time this series tees off. Psst — remember Jake Jewell? Did you miss that he got picked off waivers when we tried to send him to the minors? (You wouldn’t be at fault if you did.) He’s now with the Giants’ AAA affiliate, which is where Jake Jewell is supposed to be when employed by a team with actual MLB-caliber players.

As for the Giants themselves, they still lead the MLB with 90 wins of this writing and will likely find themselves in the first-place playoff spot, as long as they keep the Dodgers an arm’s length away, which is what the Dodgers deserve. Wins will be hard to come by, and I’m not sure if Happ’s season in a can performance over the past month will be enough to fool this team. We’ll see what happens. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

In a series of come-from-behind wins and no thanks to any of the starters, the Cubs swept the Pirates in a bunch of very close games over the weekend to extend their meaningless win streak against more minor-league-caliber teams to six.

Obviously, this is not something to get overly excited about. If you’re keeping the Pirates in these games as much as the Cubs were, your team has some real issues, and it’s still unclear if the solutions for those issues are still in-house. Personally, I’m not convinced the starting pitching is yet, but what do I know? I’m just a blogger.

At least Frank Schwindel is here to save us.

Let’s break these games down.

September 2, 2021
Cubs 6, Pirates 5 (F/11)
WP: Heuer (6-2) LP: Howard (2-3)
Box Score

Keegan Thompson was given yet another start, and pretty quickly gave up a three-run homer for the Pirates in merely the 1st inning. The Cubs were able to get two runners on in the bottom of the inning, mirroring the Pirates, except two strikeouts for the Cubs ended things with no runners scoring.

Luckily for us, the Pirates ended up choking in the 7th inning, with Robinson Chirinos and Sergio Alcantara getting a respective single and double. Then Rafael Ortega hit a three-run homer to tie the game. Then not long after that Ian Happ hit a two-run homer to take the lead. (Now it’s time for you to realize that Ian Happ is still 5th on this team for batting average, third in OPS, and third in slugging on this team despite only getting hot for like a month. And he is still training Willson Contreras in all of those stats, who just came back from injury. It’s really something.)

A pinch-hit single to right field in the top of the 9th ended up tying the game for the Pirates, which means we were forced to watch even more of this than we bargained for. It took almost two more innings before the Pirates completely blundered the game in the most hilarious possible way, as Ian Happ hit an infield pop fly and Pirates’ second baseman Wilmer Difo dropped the ball to score the winning run on second base.

Thompson didn’t have a good outing by any stretch of the imagination, getting pulled in the 2nd inning by Ross after throwing only 54 pitches and allowing four hits and three runs, one of which a homer. Adrian Sampson, Scott F-Ross, and Adam Morgan all had good outings, allowing no hits combined for 6.1 innings and eight (!!!!????) strikeouts.

Rowan Wick, surprisingly to nobody, blew the save with the three hits and two runs in the 9th inning. Let’s not use him as closer again, shall we? He was soon replaced by our new regular closers, Manuel Rodriguez and Codi Heuer, who were able to help the Cubs close out the game with a W.

September 3, 2021
Cubs 6, Pirates 5
WP: Megill (1-0) LP: Miller (0-1)
Box Score

Things got a little wild this game with ump calls, rulebook headscratchers, and the like. Not to mention the Cubs defense was not good. However, they were able to pull out their fourth straight W, albeit against dumpster fire teams.

It was also unclear whether who was actually in charge of the ball club halfway through the game since Ross tested positive for COVID-19 before the game and Andy Green got ejected for absolutely handing it to the umpires in a socially-distanced manner. Hats were thrown to the ground and everything. The clown show here never ceases.

Things started out okay, as the Cubs got five runs on the Pirates in three innings—and none of those were homers, surprisingly. Singles and walks galore were given out by Pirates starter Steven Brault, who gave up seven hits and five runs in his four innings pitched.  By the end of this game, the only batter who didn’t get a hit was Jason Heyward. No surprise there, am I right?

Despite the five-run lead, the Cubs predictably blew it, specifically by allowing two Anthony Alford home runs in two innings. Alford’s career slash line is .168/.225/.309, by the way. So that’s pretty bad. Wisdom had a good catch in the 5th inning to stop a hit, but other than that the defense was atrocious. He also errored in the next inning, and Andy Green got ejected after we all watched one of the worst throws from Sergio Alcantara I’ve ever seen. Green argued interference, was ejected, and then promptly blew a gasket on the field in the most hilarious way possible, because once again, nothing matters.

After Alford’s second homer that knocked in three runs to tie the game, it was thanks to Frank Schwindel’s solo dinger in the bottom of the inning that the Cubs were able to get out of this one with a win. Perhaps we didn’t deserve this one.

September 4, 2021
Cubs 7, Pirates 6
WP: Effross (1-0) LP: Stratton (5-1)
Box Score

The Cubs didn’t exactly deserve this win either, but when the Pirates closer just about hands it to you in the 9th inning you don’t refuse it.

The Cubs started out in the hole after Kyle Hendricks gave up a solo homer in the 1st. Hendricks only gave up three other hits until the 5th inning, where things went completely off the rails. A walk, a single, two walks in a row, and a hit by pitch ended Hendricks’s day as he let the Pirates tie things up there.

Ian Happ had a nice double in the 4th inning that barely stayed fair, and it became one of many hits and on-bases in the 4th inning as the Pirates proved themselves to be defensive disasters. By the end of the 4th, Happ, Contreras and Wisdom scored to make it 3-1 Cubs before Hendricks allowed the game to get tied up.

Outfield catching was the name of the game today. Rafael Ortega was able to save another Pirates run or two in the 2nd by making a crazy diving catch in the outfield to end the inning with no additional scoring. Happ later decided that defense was his specialty by catching an otherwise foul ball in the 5th inning, but unfortunately the pitching performance for the Cubs in that same inning made it all for naught.

Down 6-3 by the bottom of the 5th inning, Schwindel hit a solo homer to make the deficit just a bit smaller. No more offense was seen until the Pirates utterly choked in the bottom of the 9th inning, giving the Cubs the walk-off win thanks to hits by Matt Duffy, Alfonso Rivas, Ortega and Schwindel again getting the winning hit after the Pirates’ first baseman whiffed on the tag.

September 5, 2021
Cubs 11, Pirates 8
WP: Alzolay (5-13) LP: Howard (2-4)
Box Score

Once again, the Cubs went down early in the 1st inning thanks to a Pirates solo homer. It became the first in a series of back-and-forth half-innings where the teams were trading leads with each other. Matt Duffy and Jason Heyward, two extremely unlikely duos, hit solo homers in the 2nd to take things back, but the Pirates ended up scoring four runs on Zach Davies in the 3rd to put them back on top. He still sucks.

The Cubs came back after this inning and ended up scoring 5, with Schwindel and Happ getting hits, Ortega and Wisdom with walks, and Matt Duffy with a three-run homer. The 4th was a scoreless inning, but the Pirates ended up tying things up with a litany of hits in the top of the 5th after Davies was yanked for Rex Brothers. Brothers gave up three walks and a sac fly, which was infuriating to watch. Then Manuel Rodriguez threw a wild pitch after replacing Brothers so the Pirates could tie the game, though putting him in that bases-loaded situation certainly wasn’t a recipe of success for him in this outing. We’ll let it slide.

The Pirates scored another run in the 6th to give them the lead, but it was Schwindel who continues to crush every ball that comes his way, this time with a grand slam in the 7th inning to give the Cubs the lead for good. He scored Robinson Chirinos and Ortega, who walked, and Rivas, who singled, to win this one.

Adbert Alzolay collected the win as he once again came out of the pen for 1.2 innings and threw pretty good ball. I am now firmly in the camp that Alzolay maybe just doesn’t have that starter ability, and he should be kept in the pen where he is serviceable and (the Ricketts will hate this one) you’ll definitely have to spend some big bucks on some actual starters if you REALLY want to accelerate the rebuild for next year. But that’s just me.

Starting shortly, the Cubs will probably get shellacked in a series against the Cincinnati Reds, who are currently half a game back of the Padres for the final wild card spot and dammit, Cubs, just win to make things a little more difficult for the Reds, okay? The Padres are also playing a relatively bad team in the Angels, but everyone is fully aware that Shohei Ohtani can simply  will that team to a win whenever he wants to turn on his god-tier playing status. Hopefully it will be something worth watching, as the Cubs work to be playoff spoilers. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

Amazingly, the Cubs were able to string together two wins in a row — something they haven’t done since August 17-18, and July 25-26 before that — and were pretty close to winning a third game in a row, which they haven’t done since June. It was good to finally watch some exciting baseball, despite it all being for naught and against another sub-.500 team. Players like Patrick Wisdom and Ian Happ are producing offensively to mask the fact that our pitching is filled with question marks whose futures as elite MLB starters seem dubious at best. Let’s break the fun down, shall we?

August 23, 2021
Cubs 6, Rockies 4
WP: Rodriguez (2-2) LP: Bard (7-6)
Box Score

Once again, the Cubs proved they can for some reason only win when Kyle Hendricks starts, despite Hendricks not getting the win and not looking too good for this start. The Rockies quite quickly started wracking up the runs, scoring three in the 1st inning alone. Hendricks allowed three singles, a double and a walk in that inning, which certainly wasn’t his best work. However, he was able to steady himself for essentially the rest of his start, allowing “only” five more hits in his next six innings and striking out six batters.

The Cubs looked dead offensively for a large portion of this game, finally scoring a measly run in the 6th inning thanks to Frank Schwindel singling, Ian Happ doubling, Wisdom walking to load the bases, and David Bote scoring Schwindel despite hitting into a GIDP. Because of course he did.

Despite things looking bleak for most of this game, and things not looking better when Hendricks allowed one more Rockies run in the 7th inning to make it 4-1, the Cubs rallied amazingly starting in the 8th inning to take the game back. First, three walks in a row from the top of the order loaded the bases. Then there was a pitching change that ended up not helping the Rockies at all, as the pitcher, Carlos Estevez, immediately gave up a single, another Bote GIDP (we can’t make this up) and a double by Michael Hermosillo to let the Cubs tie the game and light up Wrigley Field for the first time in what seemed like weeks.

The game wasn’t over though: after Codi Heuer was able to hold off the Rockies in the 8th with no hits and a strikeout, Manuel Rodriguez was able to do the same to put the Cubs up in the 9th. Jason Heyward, with one of the worst batting averages and OPS on the team, came up to pinch hit and was able to single on the second pitch he saw. After Matt Duffy, pinch hitting for Rodriguez, struck out predictably, it was Rafael Ortega who was able to hit the two-run walk-off bomb to end the game. Despite the game not really mattering, Wrigley hadn’t been that loud in a long time.

August 25, 2021
Cubs 5, Rockies 2 (F/7)
WP: Heuer (5-2) LP: Gomber (9-8)
Box Score

Even more impressive than winning one game for this team is winning two in a row, but that’s exactly what the Cubs did—granted, it was only a seven-inning game, meaning there were less chances for things to go horribly wrong, but the Cubs were still able to get it done.

Despite a plethora of Cubs hits this game (eight is now a plethora), the runs all came from homers thanks to David Bote, Austin Romine, and Patrick Wisdom, whose three-run blast probably broke someone’s windshield on Waveland. Other than that, hits were pretty much had by all, with only Rafael Ortega, Matt Duffy and Andrew Romine going hitless this game. Yes, even starter Zach Davies poked in a single to start the 3rd.

Speaking of the 3rd inning, that was the last time the Cubs allowed a hit; for the next four innings, the Rockies’ bats were just about dead, getting shut down by a combination of Zach Davies (wha?), the bullpen, and the Cubs’ defense.

Codi Heuer came in at the end of the 5th and made things look easy out there; despite not striking anyone out, it didn’t take him long at all to goad the Rockies into initiating contact for easy outs. Though he has a 4.15 ERA for the year, it’s actually a 1.35 ERA with the Cubs so far, which is pretty impressive considering the literal whos this team has been trotting out behind him for almost a month now.

Adam Morgan got the save, and like Heuer strikeouts also do not seem to be his thing. However, Wisdom fielded the final out in left field to take the Cubs home with their second win in a row! The bar is incredibly low!

August 25, 2021
Cubs 10, Rockies 13 (F/10)
WP: Bowden (3-2) LP: Jewell (0-2)
Box Score

Despite coming back three times in the second half of yesterday’s doubleheader, the Cubs collapsed — likely of pure exhaustion — in the 10th inning after the game had stretched to four hours and a slew of players had played 17 innings of baseball in one day. Jake Jewell, the eighth Cubs pitcher of the day, gave up four runs in the 10th inning on three hits and a walk to finally end our suffering.

Despite being down two runs early thanks to Justin Steele giving up a walk and a homer, the Cubs were able to very quickly make up for that in a 2nd-inning rally that consisted of five singles, a double, and Ortega stealing home that made the game 5-2 Cubs.

Of course, the Cubs can’t always have nice things. Despite Justin Steele leading off with allowing two singles at the top of the 4th, he got two strikeouts in a row before Trevor Megill was trotted out in his place. Megill hit Charlie Blackmon with the ball to load the bases and then allowed Connor Joe With Two First Names to hit a grand slam that put the Rockies back in the lead, which they then extended in the 6th inning thanks to Rex Brothers being not as sharp as he usually is on the mound.

Despite it being 8-5 Rockies in the bottom of the 7th inning, Ian Happ’s three-run homer gave us extra innings of baseball, after Matt Duffy and Frank Schwindel singled. Happ had a pretty good game, despite his horrific bunting attempt with two runners on in the 9th inning being an incredibly questionable move. Although his batting average this season is still sub-.200, he has a .462 batting average and a 1.479 OPS over the past three Cubs series. His bat is sorely needed for the Cubs to even have a chance in the upcoming Sox series, so hopefully his hot streak continues.

Yes, the final White Sox series of the season is upon us as they continue to try and extend their lead in the AL Central as the playoffs draw near. Despite losing their last series against the Rays and allowing the Blue Jays to take two of their first three games in the current four-game series, the team will be tough to beat. I’m sure Sox fans will enjoy the welcome reprieve in their schedule to dunk on us. Hopefully the Cubs will continue the fighting spirit they showed this series to at least make the games competitive and interesting to watch. It’s really all that I ask. Go Cubs go!

Everything Else

With just a little over a month left in this lost season, the Cubs continue to get crushed offensively as the number of fans that continue to watch these games dwindles. This weekend, the Cubs got outscored 19-5 and there was genuinely not a lot of good to see there. Even Keegan Thompson’s day on the mound on Saturday was a pretty forgettable one. Finally, as the cherry on top of this garbage sandwich, the Cubs are now in the midst of the longest home game losing streak in franchise history with loss number 13 in a row happening last night at Wrigley. Let’s review this dreck.

August 20, 2021
Cubs 2, Royals 6
WP: Keller (8-12) LP: Davies (6-10)
Box Score

Despite going up 2-0 early, the Cubs just couldn’t hold on, allowing the Royals to hit five solo homers to win the game 6-2. Zach Davies allowed four of those homers in 6 innings pitched: one in the 4th inning, one in the 5th and two in the 6th. Past the 3rd inning, the Cubs’ offense only had two hits (and one walk) for the rest of the game. When you can’t figure out the Royals’ pitchers, well…that’s not good for you.

Ian Happ’s offensive skills are showing signs of life, sort of, despite it being a bit too little, too late. He and Wisdom were just about the only noticeable hitters, as Wisdom hit a solo homer to put the Cubs ahead in the 2nd, and in the 3rd Happ singled to score Zach Davies (that hit, RBI and run scored likely won’t be happening a year from now.)

The Cubs did no more hitting, as Davies gave up four solo homers despite only allowing one other hit for his six innings played today. However, those solo homers obviously added up especially once the Cubs’ bats went flat. Rex Brothers pitched one hitless inning and then Ryan Meisinger allowed two hits that let the Royals pile on their lead. Jake Jewell gave up a solo homer in the 9th to end things for us in a pretty forgettable game.

August 21, 2021
Cubs 2, Royals 4
WP: Bubic (4-6) LP: Thompson (3-3)
Box Score

Well, Keegan Thompson lost his second career start, but things are pretty much always terrible for the Cubs these days. He obviously seemed a little nervous or jittery for this start, as the first run against him was scored on a wild pitch after allowing two hits in the first two at-bats of the game. Hopefully with a few more starts things will start to calm down in that regard?

Meanwhile, the Cubs offense continues to be almost league-worst. This is best shown through Kris Bubic, a pitcher who allowed 9 hits and 7 runs in 1.1 innings his last start, being able to no-hit this team through six innings. The offense continues to be horrendously broken, but nowadays there are no longer MLB-caliber players who get blamed for it; now it’s just what this team is.

Patrick Wisdom continues to be the only consistent form of Cubs offense as of late with yet another two-run homer to make this game not as embarrassing as it could’ve been. (Frank Schwindel walked.) That was the only hit the Cubs had the entire game, and at this point there’s nothing left to do as fans but shrug and say, what can you do?

August 22, 2021
Cubs 1, Royals 9
WP: Hernandez (4-1) LP: Mills (5-6)
Box Score

The Cubs once again got crushed yesterday, with Ian Happ responsible for the lone Cubs tally today. The Cubs were only able to get 5 hits compared to the Royals’ 16, which means that nobody was surprised to see 9-1 being the final score.

The starting pitching continues to be an absolute disaster, as the bulk of the Royals’ offense came off of starter Alec Mills, who gave up 11 hits and 7 runs in only 4.0 innings pitched. Starts genuinely don’t get much worse than this, despite his five strikeouts. At least he didn’t walk anyone?

Rowan Wick, surprise surprise, was the only relief pitcher who gave up any more runs, which I would consider to be a step in the right direction for everyone else involved. Ryan Meisinger came out in the 5th inning to relieve Mills of his duties. He had runners on second and third and got a strikeout and no hits to lower his ERA to 11.12. He did allow a sacrifice fly that scored a runner but since that runner was put on base by Mills it didn’t count against him. Adrian Sampson, Rex Brothers and Michael Rucker combined for only three hits together in the last three innings of the game. They also got four strikeouts.

The Cubs couldn’t figure out Royals starter Carlos Hernandez, who stayed in the game for seven innings and gave up only four hits. In the 4th inning, Ian Happ hit a ground-rule double and Matt Duffy’s single two batters later was able to send him home. Other than that, Hernandez shut down the club and that continued through the Royals’ two innings of relief, where the Cubs only allowed one hit.

In case you still cared, the Cubs now play the Rockies for the first half of this week. The Rockies are about as bad as the Royals and look how that worked out for the Cubs this weekend. The ugliness continues; if you’re still crazy enough to watch and read about this team, I’ll be back midweek with the wrap. Go Cubs go.